Scotland’s Western Isles have been voted among the world’s top 10 regions to visit by travel book/site Rough Guides. The list, which was topped by Alaska and included the likes of Tohuku and South Africa’s Northern Cape, ranked the Western Isles alongside only two other European regions- Calabria, Italy, and Castilla y Lèon, Spain.
The islands, the largest of which include Lewis and Harris, North Uist, and Barra, were described as possessing a ‘natural majesty’, praising in particular the accessibility to the island, belying its ‘isolated reputation’. Calmac ferry services leaving from Ullapool to Stornoway take around two and a half hours, while a direct, daily flight route from Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Inverness airports. The wilderness for which the Outer Hebrides is famed is closer than you might think
It is these vast, unfettered, at times unforgiving, natural characteristics which combine to create one of the richest ecosystems found in Northern Europe. For bird-watchers, the Bird of Prey Trail, stretching across the length of the archipelago, provides the opportunity to spot such rare birds as the regal white-tailed eagle. The island is home to an estimated population of 4,000 red deer, while dolphin watching remains one of the most popular tourist activities. Such wildlife, unparalleled in its diversity in the UK, was the subject of a 2013 BBC documentary entitled ‘Hebrides: Islands on Edge’.
The Western Isles are just one example of the raw beauty of the Scottish landscape. Experience Scotland recognises that the natural landscape, and the wildlife which it allows to thrive, is one of Scotland’s greatest assets. The protection of such a beautiful environment is of paramount importance. It is for this reason that we are committed to reaching the ISO 14001 standard for environmental management, materialising our love of Scotland’s natural environment.
Environmental protection, however, is not a localised project: its scope should always be international. Experience Scotland have pledged, in partnership with WeForest, to plant over 4,000 trees in North-East India to help the region regenerate its threatened forests, often subject to material exploitation.
The Rough Guide top 10 regions list is an affirmation, a celebration, of the beauty of the natural world. We are lucky enough to possess a small but breathtaking slice of that beauty here in Scotland, and we are committed to ensuring its beauty remains undiminished for many years to come.